On The ABA Not Standing Up To A ‘Libel Bully’

Donald J. Trump at a campaign rally in Naples, Fla., on Sunday. Credit Eric Thayer for The New York Times

Donald J. Trump at a campaign rally in Naples, Fla., on Sunday. Credit Eric Thayer for The New York Times

Welcome to the age of the “libel bully.” The American Bar Association used the phrase to describe Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in a report on his litigation, but knew better than to publish that report. The New York Times writes that “… the [ABA] report concluded that Mr. Trump was a “libel bully” who had filed many meritless suits attacking his opponents and had never won in court. But the bar association refused to publish the report, citing “the risk of the A.B.A. being sued by Mr. Trump.

The story notes that “..  internal communications, the bar association’s leadership, including its general counsel’s office and public relations staff, did not appear to dispute the report’s conclusions.
But James Dimos, the association’s deputy executive director, objected to the term ‘libel bully’ and other sharp language in the report, saying in an Oct. 19 email that the changes were needed to address ‘the legitimately held views of A.B.A. staff who are charged with managing the reputational and financial risk to the association.'”

Another quote from A.B.A. staff push-back: “While we do not believe that such a lawsuit has merit, it is certainly reasonable to attempt to reduce such a likelihood by removing inflammatory language that is unnecessary to further the article’s thesis,” Mr. Dimos wrote. “Honestly, it is the same advice members of the forum would provide to their own clients.”

Catch up on your irony here:

Long Waits Render Issues Nearly Moot, Ridiculous

At first, the story of Sergio Garcia seems merely interesting: He was born in Mexico but has spent much of his life in the United States, where he earned a law degree but is not yet a citizen. Now the California Supreme Court will decide if it sides with Garcia’s supporters, which happen to include the state’s attorney general, or with the Obama Administration, which opposes giving professional degrees to non-citizens.
 
But the issue seems almost beside the point when you realize that Garcia has waited FOUR YEARS for a court decision on his case, and according to a story by Howard Mintz in the San Jose Mercury News “… his immigration status has been in flux since 1994, when he returned from years of schooling in Mexico to rejoin his family and finish high school in Durham. His father and most of his siblings are citizens, but the sluggish federal visa process for Mexican immigrants has slowed his bid for legal status.”
 
Mintz notes that “… at the current pace, Garcia, who is too old for a federal program that aids some illegally brought into the country as youths, estimates he will not get his green card until about 2019 — and he does not want to wait that long to be eligible to be a lawyer.” This could be a valid issue, and the state bar wants to award the license, but when it takes four years to get a true day in court and you’re backed up about a QUARTER CENTURY in the immigration process, at what point is the “issue” a joke? And remember, the courts are slowing down with budget cuts.
 
“I’m very excited to get my day in court,” Garcia told the Mercury News, showing a gift for understatement that will serve him well if he actually becomes an attorney.
 

The ABA Meeting Continues Big-Name Draw

Not that anybody is saying anything new, but at least the big American Bar Association meeting in San Francisco is hosting the biggest names to say the old stuff. Like a Supreme Court Justice coming out strongly in favor of increasing civic education.
 
The ABA website is doing a good job keeping up with the annual conference via social and traditional postings. It says “…. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy commended the American Bar Association for its efforts to call attention to the nation’s justice system, but he stressed that the ABA must do more with regard to civic education. Kennedy, speaking Saturday night at the Opening Assembly of the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, said the association “must insist that civic education be recommenced and revitalized because freedom is not something that’s on automatic pilot.”
 
Keep up with the legal elite here.